Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Dec 2005

Week 14 Rundown

In the latest FOXSports.com weekly rundown: An interview with Ben Roethlisberger's thumb, the secret to beating the Cowboys, and the Panthers meet the Bucs. You know what that means, don't you? LESBIAN CHEERLEADERS!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 08 Dec 2005

28 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2005, 3:40pm by Mshray


by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:29pm

This is a bit of a tangent, but I may have the solution to Detroits' problems.

Re-reading the FO staff Bio page I found this for MDS:

"Smith got a Barry Sanders jersey just before Sanders' retirement and a Charlie Batch jersey just before Batch was cut."

So it's all very simple really. All MDS has to do is buy a Matt Millen Jersey and problem solved. I'm only suprised he hasn't figured this out by himself :)

by Doug Farrar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:29pm

"Seahawks, Shmeahawks. The Eagles nearly won the time of possession battle. Shaun Alexander only ran for 49 yards. The Eagles blew Seattle away in kickoff return yardage. East Coast fans expect more convincing victories. Snazzier uniforms, too."

Quote of the week.

by Larry (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:47pm

For whatever reason, this is the first time I checked out this column. It's hilarious. I loved it. Great stuff. Just thought I'd say so.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 1:52pm

A Sartre reference AND a Hurley shout-out! I love this column!

Logical response to all cheerleader / motorhome jokes therefore has to be:

"Dude! You do NOT want to be doing that right now!"

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:02pm

"Usually, when something pops in Cincinnati, Ken Griffey Jr. spends 60 days on the disabled list."

What a great line.

And I never thought I'd see the day when fans sould have e legitimate gripe that Sage Rosenfels isn't starting.

by Murr (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:27pm

Wow - this seems to be "pick your favorite line" week. My vote goes to:

"And Tommy Maddox's thumb offers a lot of advice; it has been in some rather tight spots lately."

Very subtle, very funny - I like it.

by Devin (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:27pm

These articles are consistently great, well informed, funny, and interesting. They are now my new favorite football writing. Way to go!

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:43pm

Come on guys, I think you're making some awfully big assumptions here. I mean, how do you KNOW those cheerleaders were lesbians? They might have been bisexual.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:47pm

"Roethlisberger won some games with his arm last year, while Kyle Orton just loiters in the pocket and waits for the defense to do the scoring."

Extending the metaphor, the opposing defense are some police on a beat patrol, and when they show up, Orton tosses the ball away as a distraction.

Any belief that Orton had any ability has been destroyed by his mustache. Bring on Grossman.

I'm not a Bears fan, but if they win the Super Bowl, someone needs to create a video of Bears highlights and low lights set to "Eye of the Tiger."

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:48pm

The Saints have a D-lineman named Will Smith?

Tanier, I'm assuming your conserving the joke potential of that.

by Tecmo Bo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:17pm

"Tommy Maddox's thumb has been in some rather tight spots lately"

Well done Mr. Tanier, best joke I've read in a while.

by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:17pm

Sweet sweet sweet! Did I really just read "Tommy Maddox's thumb has been in some tight spots lately"??? Like his rectum?

Big Ben's thumb has some major sense of humor and is not afraid to call it as he sees it. That Tanier guy is funny too. "The Eagles nearly won the TOP battle." Indeed.

by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:18pm

Damn you, Tecmo Bo!

by Tecmo Bo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:45pm

Yes! First one to spot the sphincter joke!

by Murr (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 6:11pm


Ahem. Please see #6 above. You're only 3 hours late.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 6:16pm

NF: Yes, he was a 1st rounder out of tOSU a couple of years back.

BTW, Mike, the Saints/falcons tilt is Monday, not Sunday.

by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 9:51pm

ok why do you guys continually mention Bledsoe and not the playcalling?
Have you seen the Cowboys play?
Last week was a true classic. On the first 8 first down plays, Dallas chose to run 7 times. For a mighty 20 yards. If Bledsoe is continually put in 3rd and long he will have problems. The Cowboys O-line is very poor. When you add that to predictable play calling, well it was no surprise that the Cowboys scored zero points. Hey the giants D-line played great, no arguement. But Dallas also had the same uber crappy first down run strategy against...lets see
2nd eagles game.
I have no idea what the Cowboys DVOA on first downs in the first half is, but i am pretty sure it is horrible. I don't really blame Bledsoe for this.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 10:59pm

Hey, I won't dispute much about the description of the Vikings' season. I expected them to suffer a total collapse after getting smoked by the Bears 28-3, and thought they'd be looking at a three or four win season. Yeah, they have benefited from the schedule, but they also had plenty of opportunities to quit in those games, and they haven't done so.

It's pretty fashionable to rip Ol' Ticey, but there ain't too many other coaches in the NFL who have had to make do with the coaching and scouting budget that he has had to work with. If they make the playoffs, out of simple fairness it'd be nice to see him get a chance with the resources that most other coaches have.

by Calbuzz (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:16am

I have a theory that the Jags mirror their coach in the Macho department. Meaning, they get pumped up for the big fights, and stand aside for the weak sisters (see Rams, Cle, etc). Don't be fooled by two recent lame showings. My guess is that they'll give Indy plenty.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 4:02am

Re: Mike Tice.

I don't get it. Ever since he's been there, he's struggled to produce winning seasons.

Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's a decent coach, he's clearly not a Super Bowl coach.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:55am

Re #17: ok why do you guys continually mention Bledsoe and not the playcalling?
Have you seen the Cowboys play?
Last week was a true classic. On the first 8 first down plays, Dallas chose to run 7 times. For a mighty 20 yards. If Bledsoe is continually put in 3rd and long he will have problems.

Alright, let me make sure I'm reading this correctly. You say that if Bledsoe gets put into 3rd-and-long situations, he's going to struggle mightily. And then you criticize the coaches for running on first down. You don't just criticize the backs for failing to get the yardage, you actually CRITICIZE THE COACHES for calling running plays in the first place. Do I have that right?

Do you know a BETTER way to avoid 3rd-and-long situations than to run on first and second down? I mean, granted, if you aren't gaining a lot of yards, that will put you in third and long yes. Let's say a team averages 2 yards a carry, then running on first and second down will still leave a QB in 3rd-and-6, which is moderately long (long enough to be called an "obvious passing situation", at any rate).

Of course, if that team calls passes on first and second down, and those passes fall incomplete, then that QB is facing 3rd-and-10... which I'm pretty sure classifies as "third and long". And if the team calls a pass and a run, and the pass is incomplete, then that's 3rd-and-8, which again qualifies as "third and long". And that's not even TOUCHING on the fact that if a QB drops back to pass, and gets sacked, well then he's facing third and REALLY long. Or the fact that a passing play involving Drew Bledsoe is more likely to lose yardage than a running play involving Julius Jones/Marion Barber/anyone but Deshaun Foster.

You can't have it both ways. Either the coaches make avoiding 3rd-and-long a priority, or they call passing plays on first down. If you're going to blame anything for the third and longs, blame your team's execution, not its playcalling. If they average 4 yards a carry on first down instead of 3 yards a carry on first down, you aren't sitting here complaining right now.

by DD Ohio (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:25pm

#10 and #16:

New Orleans' Will Smith was huge at Ohio State. Being married to a Buckeye fan, I saw many of their games during the Will Smith era, and I can safely say that the joke potential has been exhausted. Not a game could go by without the two nimrods announcers from ABC making some reference to The Fresh Prince, Men in Black, or Independence Day. It got really old.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:47pm

Chris, Super Bowl coaches have a funny coincidence of having Super Bowl players. Thus, Belichik is now a great coach, whereas prior he was insufficient to the needs of Art Modell. Funny how Mike Shanahan was a Super Bowl coach at one time, but in the seven years since a certain player retired, Shanahan has won fewer playoff games than Mike Tice. How could this be? Mike Shanahan, as evidenced by the two rings, is clearly a Super Bowl coach, whereas Mike Tice is, well, Mike Tice!

This is Tice's fourth year, and it is the first in which he has had players on defense which were playoff-worthy, to say nothing of Super Bowl-worthy. If you doubt this, go back and check the roster of the Vikings defense in the previous three years. The personnel stunk. Period. Which is why any number of those players are now out of the league, or are stinking with their current franchises, no matter the change in coaching. Their lousiness was only compounded by a coaching budget which produced no continuity on defense.

Of course, in the course of getting better personnel on defense, they traded, largely due to the short-term objectives of an owner selling the team, their most explosive offensive player. They also lost their best offensive lineman to injury. They also became the only team in the NFL, again, due the owner's desired bottom line, to ask their offensive line coach to also be the offensive coordinator. Do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, that there is a reason that other NFL teams don't have their offensive coordinator also be the offensive line coach? Or do you suppose that Red McCombs just had better insight than 31 other NFL front offices as to how to optimize the performance of football players?

Now, I happened to support trading Moss, because I suspected he was about to become an injury-prone player, which looks to be an accurate suspicion so far. I thought however, that the draft strategy they employed was flawed, in that I thought they should have used their initial first round pick on a pass rusher, and the next pick on the best available receiver, instead of the other way around. It's still too early to call that one, though, and I don't know how much control Tice had over those picks.

Is Tice a great coach? It is very unlikely, but then the next coach that is hired will be very unlikley to be a great coach, either, for the simple reason that it is about as difficult to identify a great NFL head coach as it is to identify a great mutual fund manager, which is to say that it is almost random luck which determines whether these selections will turn out well.

What I do know is that in a situation in which many coaches would have lost their team completely, he didn't. He had lame duck status with only a few months to run on his contract, no budget for assistants, a media frenzy pertaining to strippers/prostitutes at a party (gee, and I bet this VERY unusual in the context of the NFL), and the team didn't quit on him. This would not be the case for many NFL coaches.

The bottom line is that this is a bottom line business, and if this team achieves the playoffs, in the context of what Tice has had to work with, it would be unwise to boot him unless you had someone with the track record of say, Parcells, waiting in the wings, for the simple reason that the chances of the bottom line improving via such a move are not terrific.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 1:55pm

Yeah, Kibbles, it is always a source of amazement to me that the great play-callers so often have superior offensive linemen to send plays in to. Who'da' thunk it! Funny on how much better the Chiefs' play- calling is when Wille Roaf is in the game.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:19pm

Funny, I was thinking that you could always have six degrees of separation between Will and the man with the ball -- but then I'm not a high-paid hack like Gary Danielson, right?

by jds (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 2:32pm

Will, generally I would defer to your knowledge, as you obviously are more attuned to the Vikings situation than I am. But so far, I think I disagree with you on Tice. I think he's a nice enough guy, and probably a very good position coach, but not a good head coach.

At the end of the year, should the new owner offer a long term deal? or try to retain him on another short term (e.g. 2 year deal)? Given the schedule, I think the Vikes will get to the playoffs, so for a guy trying to build a stadium I think he'd want to retain the coach who took them to the playoffs, but I have serious reservations about his head coaching ability.

PS. Off the Tice topic. Is Smoot gone next year?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 3:11pm

jds, you may be right that Tice isn't a good head coach. The point I was trying to get at is that the next guy hired isn't any more likely to be a good head coach, because hiring head coaches in the NFL is a pretty random event, in terms of it being successful.

Thus, given that his players did not quit on him, as NFL players have been known to do in similar circumstances, one may as well give Tice the opportunity to coach with resources similar to what other NFL coaches enjoy. This is all predicated, of course, on making the playoffs, since failure to do so will aggravate the season ticket base sufficiently to make changing coaches more of a wash, in terms of risk/reward ratio. I think two or three years would be about right.

I just don't know about Smoot. They mave structured his up-front money as a roster bonus, instead of a signing bonus, thus making it much more cap-friendly to cut him loose. If that is the case however, it might make more sense to showcase him a little as a nickel back at the end of this year, and perhaps during next year's pre-season, prior to trading him. Of course, if he show himself healthy before this season ends, and plays well in nickel coverage, his best trade potential may be for draft pick(s), so maybe the Vikings woulkd do well to get what they can before next year's draft. I have to say, however, that I'm not a good enough capologist to give great insight into these matters.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 3:40pm

I'm glad everybody got the Maddox's thumb joke, but am I really the first to point out the Dilbert reference? Maybe one of those Elbonian mud farmers will get hired by Matt Millen to replace Mooch.

Excellent column as always Mike.